Industry cannot win on the question of animal testing

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Animal testing European union

In 2011 the cosmetics industry will find itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to phasing out animal testing, a process that has been underway for many years.

Although nothing has been officially announced, according to UK newspaper The Guardian, it will not be long before the European Commission announces that a complete ban on animal testing cannot be implemented in the time frame originally proposed.

Since 2009, using animals to test cosmetics ingredients in the European Union has been banned. In addition, a marketing ban has been introduced, which bans the sale of products containing ingredients tested on animals elsewhere.

However, this marketing ban was introduced in a staggered fashion, depending on what the test was designed to find out, with some falling under a 2009 deadline and some a 2013 limit. And, this is where the complication arises.

Some of these tests have proved more complicated than others to replace with non-animal alternatives, and last summer the European Commission published a document highlighting that replacements for many of the tests set for a 2013 ban were not yet available.

At the time the European Commission was heavily criticised by animal rights bodies for taking ‘too scientific’ a stance, and not recognising the moral implications of continuing to use animals – thoughts that have been echoed in recent media coverage.

However, last year also saw intensified pressure on the industry for ‘safe’ cosmetics from consumers and interest groups.

The Story of Cosmetics, a video documentary by Annie Leonard supported by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics fuelled consumer fears about ingredients that may prove toxic, carcinogenic or hormone disrupting.

If deemed necessary, and the level of consumer fear and action from interest groups suggest that this will increasingly be the case, such ingredients may be required to undergo further testing, to be sure that they pose no risk to consumers.

However, if a ban is enforced on animal testing, proving the safety of ingredients may not be possible.

This leaves the industry in a very tricky position. Consumers and interest groups demand ingredients that are safe, and regulation that will investigate not just new ingredients before they go to market, but re-investigate old ones if enough concern is voiced.

However, they also demand cruelty-free cosmetics that have not been tested on animals.

Reconciling these demands is going to be very challenging for the industry while alternatives are not yet up to speed.

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Posted by Dene Godfrey,

Katie, I am sure that you are correct in your assertion that the vast majority of cosmetic ingredients HAVE been tested on animals. This is mostly because they were introduced in the days before there were ANY in vitro alternatives. It is unfortunate that there is still not the full range of in vitro alternatives to allow the regulators to avoid demands for SOME animal testing on new ingredients. Most cosmetics manufacturers are sufficiently pragmatic to accept that some animal testing is inevitable (on ingredients) and will accept animal testing that has not been carried out on the ingredient purely for the purpose of getting the material approved for use in cosmetics, but for other regulatory purposes. The testing of finished product an animals has long been banned in the EU, and I doubt that many cosmetics companies engage in this practise elsewhere.
I am not trying to state a case either for or against the use of animal testing, but simply offering some background information.
This is a highly complex area, and there is a lot of misinformation about the scale of animal testing and the use of "cruelty free" claims does not help, in my opinion, as it implies that products that do not proclaim "cruelty free" HAVE been tested on animals, and this is not necessarily the case by a long way. The claim is also highly subjective.

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Dear God (i hope you do exist)

Posted by Mirjam Mohn,

I believe P&G will win the battle and lead in STOPPING animal testing!

I believe in P&G capability to lead and serve the industry, turning the customer into bosses and making them happy even if they have so many stakeholders and so many wishes which are difficult to reconcile...

I believe in the fact that P&G counts with the best people and the best brands. PGers touch and improve lives - even if it is a DOG!

I believe in P&G people making sure that all humans and animals are treated with love and respect - thus being enabled to TRUST in their LOVE BRANDS.

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It is all about keeping our animals from suffering

Posted by Mirjam Mohn,

- some of my admired cosmetic brands claim they are doing with out animal testing and i am inspired by several of their ingredients and marketing there an equation towards the degree and level of cruelty on animal testing versus the innovation an industry drives though animal testing versus without?

- is it really those industries to innovate most who apply the most cruel animal testing methods?

- why is it that the development on alternative testing methods is so incredibly slow- may be a lack of responsibility from some members of the industry?(just a naive guess) Is it may be a matter of profitability and driving growth (in MKT terms consumer safety) on the cost of the lives of poor animals?(just to provoke)

What about Corporate Social Responsibilty, is it just a term or does it mean anything also to the lives of the beautiful and dear animals?

- how does it come that some of the animals have to suffer beyond our immagination?

Conclusion: 3 questions:

Can we rely on the integrity of brands which develop their innovations without animal testing? How can we check and hold them acountable?

I TRUST we can, as I am a consumer of these brands and therefore I would ask the competitors to connect to those models and to learn from them. I consider this as our common social responsibility!

What can the cosmetic companies (and some of the market really wonderful brands i very much hope not to live without in the future) do to ensure those testing methods with the lowest degree of suffering for these animals?

Thinking into a new direction: how could the grace of these animals be respected and they would still have a chance to live a happy life after and during their tests (may be i am not deep enough in this to judge - but i had to cry when i read about the condition of test dogs from my former love brand)....

What else can the industry do to innovate on new alternative testing methods?

I have been asking for this since I was a child! I have requested a lot of signatures against animal testing to wake up industries with my class mates (friends) and for the development of alternative methods about 30 years ago! And I do believe there are more alternatives than we are told!Many times it is a matter of COSTS why they are not applied! (bold assumption)..

What is the most efficient and effective thing I can do to drive social innovation also valid for animals?

I personally will BAN any brand I really know is doing cruel tests on animals as of NOW. Even if I adore their Marketing Campaigns!

Are those industries open to show to their consumers the state of their test animals and be held accountable for this? Is it too much to ask this as a customer?

We owe dignity and grace to human beings and to our animals....

Very open to receive more inspiration, innovation and education on that subject as much as corrections!

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